SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–Fifteen years ago, Andrew Suárez’s Broward Bulldogs took on Manny Machado’s Hialeah Chiefs in travel ball.
On Saturday, Suárez’s San Francisco Giants hosted Machado’s San Diego Padres at Scottsdale Stadium.
It’s been more than a decade since Suárez and Machado regularly faced each other, but that will soon change. After Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres this offseason, the Giants expect to see him 19 times each season.
“The Padres are good now,” Suárez said. “Facing Manny is going to be fun, I’ve known him since forever.”
Suárez’s stories from travel ball are chock-full of familiar names. He played against Giants teammates Dereck Rodríguez and Aramis Garcia and pitched for a team that featured Cubs outfielder Albort Almora.
He couldn’t remember exactly how he fared against Machado in Little League, but said the two have spent a lot of time together since then as they work out at the University of Miami in the offseason. Despite spending hours in the gym together, Suárez said he was surprised by the infielder’s decision to sign with San Diego.
“I just never talk to him about (free agency),” Suárez said. “I just think it’s more his problem, not a problem, but it’s his business. It was very surprising for sure.”
Suárez retired Machado twice on flyouts to right field Saturday and impressed in 3 1/3 innings of work. The left-hander allowed just one run while striking out two. He wanted to catch up with Machado before Saturday’s game, but couldn’t because he needed time to warm up for the outing.
Contacting him afterward won’t be any easier.
“I don’t have his number,” Suárez said. “He’s always changing it.”
After starting 29 games for the Giants last season, Suárez could be ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento at the start of the year. The franchise has fortified its rotation and Suárez has minor league options, making it difficult for San Francisco to keep him on its initial 25-man roster.
Saturday marked just the second start of the spring for Suárez, but he said the Giants have kept him on a normal schedule by finding additional ways to ensure he’s ready for the regular season.
“I’ve been on the same program as all of the other starters,” Suárez said. “Today after I finished I went to go throw a few more simulated innings.”
Panik on fire
Second baseman Joe Panik went 3-for-3 with a walk to improve his average to .517 for the spring. With 15 hits in 29 at-bats, Panik is one of the hottest hitters in the Cactus League and continues to draw praise from manager Bruce Bochy.
“Joe was dealing with a lot of nagging injuries but has really taken it upon himself to get himself in the best shape that he can be in,” Bochy said. “He’s moving around better, he’s lost some weight and you can see it.”
Panik was one of seven Giants starters to finish with multiple hits in Saturday’s 10-3 win over San Diego. Catcher Buster Posey tripled in a run after Padres left fielder Josh Naylor misplayed a line drive to the gap while left fielder Gerardo Parra and shortstop Brandon Crawford added doubles.
News and notes
- After catching six innings Saturday, Posey is expected to catch back-to-back games for the first time this spring when the Giants host the Royals Sunday. Bochy said he’s “amazed” by the catcher’s progress as he returns from hip surgery and isn’t concerned about Posey when he’s running the bases.
- Left-handers Tony Watson and Will Smith each threw an inning Saturday and both are expected to pitch on back-to-back days. It’s unclear if Watson and Smith will throw on the minor league side or pitch against the Royals, but as the season moves closer, the Giants want to continue testing their relievers’ arms.
- Bochy pondered the idea of starting the same infield he used in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Royals behind Madison Bumgarner this Sunday, but he indicated after Saturday’s game that Pablo Sandoval could use a rest. Evan Longoria will likely play third base.
- The 10 runs the Giants scored Saturday marked their second-highest total in Cactus League play. San Francisco’s previous high came in a 15-2 win over Kansas City on February 27.